Editor's Note: On March 18, the World Health Organization released a statement on their Twitter account that at the moment, they do not advise against using Ibuprofen to treat COVID-19 patients.
There seems to be new findings on the novel coronavirus every day, from how it behaves to how to treat it. We rely heavily on public health experts for advice on what to do if symptoms arise, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently made a surprising statement about ibuprofen and its effect on coronavirus.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has it, you may be wondering whether or not it is safe to take your go-to pain relievers for relief. Research published in the respiratory medical journal, The Lancet, questions whether or not NSAIDs like ibuprofen can actually exacerbate coronavirus infections, per Science Alert. The Hill reported that a spokesman for WHO, Christian Lindmeier, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the organization is reviewing the researchers' findings. "In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication," he said at the time.
The following day, WHO issued a statement on their official Twitter account clarifying their findings, that they do not recommend not using ibuprofen for coronavirus. "We are also consulting with physicians treating COVID-19 patients and are not aware of reports of any negative effects of ibuprofen, beyond the usual known side effects that limit its use in certain populations."
Lindmeier also spoke to NPR about the organizations current stance: "After a rapid review of the literature, [the WHO] is not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic," clarifying that the organization is not advising against treating COVID-19 fevers with ibuprofen.
If you're feeling extra cautious, American pediatrician Dr. Clay Jones suggests taking acetaminophen to treat your fever unless you're extremely miserable. As for what you should do with your children if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or you suspect they may have it, don't run the medicine cabinet right away. "I generally recommend only treating fevers that make a kid uncomfortable," he says, and doesn't wake children with fevers to give them meds. "Aggressive fever suppression likely prolongs viral illness symptoms and shedding," he explains. So what are you to do? Think supportive care: keeping them hydrated, using cold compresses on the forehead, and keeping them distracted, even if that means you have to watch eleventy million episodes of Paw Patrol back-to-back.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the World Health Organization's stance on Ibuprofen's effects on COVID-19 patients on March 18, 2020.
Dr. Clay Jones, M.D., pediatrician